Once you’ve made the decision to utilize an outside agency to support your organization’s marketing efforts, the task of finding the right one can be daunting. You are going to invest a substantial amount of time, energy and cash into this relationship, and it’s not a decision you can make on a whim. The best kind of agency partnership is like a healthy friendship- clear expectations, healthy boundaries, and tons of communication. Knowing how much you want to spend, and what you want to accomplish is a helpful start, but that is just the beginning of deciding if an agency is a good fit. Here are a few tips that can help you when trying to nail down the perfect agency match (and avoiding the potential relationship disaster).

Their strengths fit your needs. 

Just like individuals, every single agency has strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to find one that will be honest with you about what they are especially great at. Be wary if they tell you they are amazing at all the things, as this is just not typically the case. Once you’ve clarified what you really need, go after an agency that is awesome at delivering in that area. This can be done by asking very specific questions during the initial discovery and research process, and making sure you get clear and helpful answers. The agency should be interested in finding the right fit for them as well, so if you aren’t comfortable with the responses, move on.

They have a proven track record of quality work. 

There should be an ample amount of work that they can present upon request. The work should span industries and types, and should have a breadth of topics and depth of quality that ensures you they know what they are doing. Case studies, analytics and examples of proven results should be in ample supply. Ask to review current client sites and social media platforms to get a feel for their current work, and to talk to current clients. If you get rave reviews and see fresh, thoughtful and on-brand writing, three cheers! If you get “meh” reviews and see stale, repetitive and cookie cutter posts, run fast in the other direction.

They focus on delivering results and helping you learn.

We have spoken to so many potential clients who are wary of content marketing agencies, and with good reason. They have been burned. Given empty promises of inflated follower counts and conversions, charged outrageous amounts of money, only to see the actual results come up sorely lacking. This makes us really mad, because this isn’t how it should be. Agencies should be underpromising and overdelivering, every time. They should be focused on helping you understand their process and approach, and how it will help your bottom line. The proof is in the pudding, so make sure to look past all the industry-speak and smoke and mirrors to taste the pudding. If it’s nonexistent, or tastes gross, you know what to do.

You like them.

Who wants to work with people they don’t like? Sometimes you don’t have a choice in the matter, but with an outside agency you do get to choose. If you enjoy their approach and style, chances are it’s a good fit. If not, just say no. You will be doing yourself and them a favor by avoiding a potential fallout down the line. Find out who your direct contact will be, and make sure you have a good rapport with them. Enjoying the people we spend most of the day communicating with can make doing our work exponentially more enjoyable.

Here’s to happy and healthy agency partnerships for all!

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